Our 2015 Digital Intelligence Briefing (DIB) report with Econsultancy shows that many companies are struggling to provide a coherent and seamless customer experience. Only a small number of the respondents believe that they have reached “maturity” in their approach to customer experience. It is clear that customer experience marketing is the most urgent areas for growth for businesses in 2016. However, some industries have less room for growth, some have more. The financial service industry almost certainly belongs to the latter.
It would be hard to ignore the fact that the financial services industry is one of the least trusted industries existing today. According to the Edelman’s trust barometer, FSI’s sit at 51% trust, whereas the likes of technology and automotive industries sit at 74% and 60%, respectively. When such a huge deficit in trust exists between financial service providers and their customers, it is clear that something within this relationship needs to change.
Historically, consumers have had a limited choice when it comes to FSIs – that is, banks, commodity traders, insurance companies and investment funds. As such, the industry was very much a ‘seller’s market’, and FSI providers had to do little to excel themselves because of this limited customer choice.
Financial Services Industry and Innovation
Now – particularly after the 2008 financial crash – everything has changed. Customers are more discerning in their choices and demanding in the services they require. The ball is in their court, so to speak, and FSI providers who can predict and provide for an increasingly empowered customer base will truly thrive.
Adapting to new mediums is one vital way in which FSI’s can stick with the times. Take Barclays as an example. With their mobile banking app, they’re managing to stay technologically relevant with their customers. Users can quickly transfer funds, cancel direct debits, or report missing cards from both their smartphones and, soon, their smartwatches. It is these immediate, obvious benefits that are vital. The smartwatch market is still in its infancy, with the Apple Watch only a few months old.
Despite many tech skeptics questioning the devices potential, businesses like Barclays are predicting demand before it exists. This head-start will help guarantee their positions as mobile banking leaders in the future – not if, but when mobile banking comes to dominate.
Inertia is a Death Sentence
There are countless examples of businesses who have failed to adapt or innovate, and by doing so failed, or were at least seriously disadvantaged compared to their competition. The UK-based supermarket chain Morrisons is such an example. Back in the early 2000s, online shopping was not particularly high in demand, similar to smartwatches and mobile banking today, perhaps.
As rivals adopted online shopping services early on, Asda in 1999 and Tesco in 2000, Morrisons all but ignored the burgeoning market. Today, they’ve found themselves playing a desperate game of catch up, releasing their own online shopping service in January 2014. With 32% of customers shopping online, and a market crowded with well-established competitors, is it a little too late?
Next Steps for FSI Providers
Customer’s changing needs must not only be identified, but also predicted. FSI providers are in a unique position in this regard. FSI providers have an extensive range of data on each of their customer’s details, preferences and behaviours across a range of mediums. This data can be leveraged to personalise and optimise customer experiences, allowing FSI providers the opportunity to stay one step ahead of their customer’s needs.
However, an important distinction needs to be made. Customers aren’t looking to be managed, or viewed as another statistic to be influenced. They now expect businesses to fully empathise with their experience as empowered consumers. Speedy, accurate service is now a given. FSI providers must go above and beyond.
It’s vital that they provide multiple touch points (social media interaction and mobile banking along with traditional means), and ensure that they’re constantly one step ahead of the game. If a consumer wants a well-connected, personalised, contextual customer experience, then brands need to deliver it. If that means providing smartwatch-friendly banking apps, or other, more innovative, ambitious means to ensure they’re staying relevant to their customers, so be it.
It’s clear that businesses face a larger problem than lack of innovation. That is, ignorance. When 80% of companies believed they delivered superior service, but only 8% of their customers agreed, there exists an obvious disconnect between businesses and their customers that proves to be disastrous.
If optimising customer experience were a 12-step program, admittance of the problem would still be the first step. However, there is no ‘cushy rehab’ for poor customer experience providers – only potential insolvency. Before any progress is to be made, FSI providers must identify that a problem exists – and it likely does – within the customer experience process before any progress can be made.
Once this first step has been acknowledged, then the next steps to follow to create an optimal customer experience can be categorized as below:
Make: First, identify who your key customers are and map out the possible journeys they will make (acquisition, upgrade, self-service etc). From here, you can start to create the relevant messaging framework for each potential customer and their journey.
Manage: Leverage the right technologies so that the creative assets you make can be delivered across multiple touch points, be it the web, mobile apps, social media, digital publications, digital display or even the iWatch! By implementing the right content management solution, digital asset management and digital asset delivery solution, you can reduce management overheads by creating smart content that can be re-used for different screens and devices, whilst also ensuring future device / touch point capability.
Measure: Next, marketers need to understand how, where, when and why their digital experiences are being consumed, in order to measure their impact and provide clear understanding of the ROI from customer experience initiatives. Comprehensive metrics provide actionable insights to improve content and optimization efforts across channels. Content, assets and customer journeys can be tested, targeted and automated to provide maximum relevance at all point of the customer lifecycle, while minimizing the need for marketer intervention.